Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

Are People Poorer Today?

November 29, 2016

I was talking with a Walmart checker the other day, talking about Christmas gifts for children.  She was probably about 45, and told me she was a single mother.  She made the comment “People today have to work twice as many hours as your generation, and we will never be as well off as you when we get to your age.”

I thought about that a little, and wondered what is different now.  Our generation bettered ourselves by trying to move up in the world of work.  We either got into programs that allowed us to move up, gained a skill, went to college or went to vocational school.  The emphasis was on moving up–at least for most of us in the middle class.  The middle class also tended to be married, which was a big economic advantage.  The idea of being a single mother and still being a Walmart checker in our 40s just didn’t occur to those in the middle class.

The other big difference, however, is the cost of college.  When I was in college, a semester’s education was worth about a month’s rent for an apartment.  We could usually work extra hours and save up for our tuition each semester, even if it meant graduating in 5 or 6 years instead of four.  We did graduate without debt.  The cost of college today has increased so exponentially as to be out of reach of many.  Something has to be done to make it affordable.  Having the government pay won’t stop the inflation, which is just unbelievable.  Government may provide free education, but like Europe, it will limit the number who can go to college, and things won’t be any better for the person who is spending a career in low wage jobs.

Why do they do it?

March 18, 2011

I received a letter from a friend recently.  This man, who retired wealthy, has decided to give up a “Western” comfortable lifestyle and live in West Africa.  He lives in a communal building, sharing a room with two other men.  Their bath consists of a clogged sink, a toilet that flushes maybe one time in 10 because of “city sewer issues”.   The shower has no drain, only a hole leading to the outside, but it works–cold water only.  Rats live under the bed, and food often causes dysentery.  He has lost so much weight nothing fits.  Yet, he is so happy.  He is also well past retirement age.

Why does he do it?  He has sold out to Jesus Christ.  He identifies with the poor as Jesus did, and wants to live among them, sharing the life they live.  He knows for him it was a choice.  They have no choice.  He wants to share the message of God’s love with the poorest of the poor.  And he is able to actually help the poor.  He has a wide variety of skills and a lot of knowledge, and he has helped by starting many projects needing his “know how.”  He doesn’t know how long he will be able to do this, but he takes it a day at a time and lives each day on the “gift of grace.”

I actually know dozens of people who live like this man:  North Americans who live in conditions of hardship to try to make life better for the poor, and to give them hope.  You don’t see these people on the news.  They work quietly, and maybe its for the best, as it would be horrible if they were singled out for acts of terrorism.  As Christians, they work humbly and equally with Christians, Muslims and those who practice ancient religions or no religion.  They would be a goldmine of knowledge on how to get diverse groups to work together.

Why do they do what they do?  In many ways and many words, they all say the same thing.  The love of Jesus changed their hearts and changed their lives.  One man said to me: “When you know about Jesus, admiration for him makes you want to change your life.  When you know Jesus heart to heart, He changes your life and you can never be the same.”  Someone else said, “Jesus puts in so much love it has to come out.”

Miracles Part 1

November 17, 2008

Some say the age of miracles has passed, but I don’t think so.  I saw my first miracle when I was 11 or 12.  My family was very poor, and our roof was very old.  We were using nearly every container in the house to catch the leaks during one of the slow moving frontal storms with day after day of rain.  Daddy went through the kitchen in the dark one night, and kicked over yet another new, leak catching bucket.  He called the family together and announced we would pray for a new roof.  He reminded God that he usually only asked for spiritual blessings, but wanted to make an exception this time because our situation was getting serious.  That week he got a free estimate and learned a new roof would cost the equivalent of two months income for our family. 


A couple of days later, a letter came to my mother from an elderly, maiden aunt.  She told Mama “you are in my will, but something prompted me to wonder if you might not need help now.”  Enclosed was a check for the amount of the roof estimate.  The check had been written before the roof estimate!

Dollar and Discount Stores part 2

March 20, 2008

I was poking fun at dollar and discount stores in my last post, but I truly love them.  There are so many ways to use dollar and discount stores to help people or bring them happiness when you, yourself, are on a tight budget.

One organization that gives the poorest of poor children a Christmas is Samaritan’s Purse.  Every Christmas they collect shoe boxes with gifts for poor children all over the world.  The gifts can be small toys, candy, gum, pencils, toothbrushes, crayons and small color books, notebooks, etc.  Seems so small to us, but to a child who has never before received a Christmas gift, it means the world.  You can fill such a shoebox at a dollar store for about $10.  If you make a few local phone calls, you can find a location near you where they are collecting the shoeboxes, and take in yours.  The organization is called Samaritan’s Purse, and you can find them online to see what happens to the shoeboxes, and how many were distributed last year.

Another thing you can do with your dollar store purchases is fill hospital patient kits for Mercy Ships.  Right now Mercy Ships has both hospital ship-based and land-based surgery facilities in West Africa.  If you didn’t know, West Africa was torn by years of civil war, and many people there have almost nothing.  When they check into the hospital they have nothing to bring with them.  At a dollar store you can get a plastic or canvas or cloth bag, and fill it with a bath towel and washcloth, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, a packet of wet wipes, a bath sponge, and a hand held mirror.  You can do all this for  about $12 to $15 at a dollar store.  You can send your bag to Mercy Ships International Headquarters in Lindale, Texas.  Check out their website at

I’m sure there are dozens or hundreds of opportunities online to do good using dollar store purchases.  When we are on tight budgets ourselves, we are tempted to think whatever we can do is too small to do any good.  Thats not true.  Some very small gifts mean a huge difference to the person who receives them.

When I lost my first child, it was right before Christmas time.  I was in the hospital Christmas Eve, a grieving mom with empty arms.  On Christmas morning, I found on the overhead table, a small stocking.  It had a comb, some candy and a couple other items.  It also had a card inside that said “God has not forgotten you.  He knows you are here.  We have not forgotten you either, and you are in our prayers.”  I don’t know the people who left it, but I can tell you it meant the world to me at that time, and I never forgot it.

Do whatever good you can–its never too small.  Smiles are free, and you never know but your smile may be the only one someone got that day.